Corporate America Still Sucks (On the Government Teat)
What would you do for $7.25? Would you mop the floors of my house? Clean and dry the dishes after dinner? Pick naval lint from Ben Carson’s belly button? Yeah, me neither. I wouldn’t do any of those things for just $7.25, but that’s because you and I are privileged. Unlike far too many Americans, we are not working for minimum wage.
In fact, 3 million American workers, or roughly 4% of hourly wage earners, are currently making that paltry sum as compensation for their labor. Even though President Obama has been pushing for a long-deserved increase to the federal minimum wage since 2009 and studies show that 80% of Americans favor an increase of the federal minimum wage to $10.10, the issue has not had enough political traction to garner the momentum needed for passing legislation on a national level. Instead, we have seen a patchwork of states and cities intervene on behalf of their citizens to increase the minimum wage to at least a reasonable sum while the remainder of the nation lags behind and watches full-time employees linger on the verge of poverty.
That’s right, folks, full-time workers earning minimum wage are, in fact, living at or below the poverty line despite working their tails off for a living. Even though the stereotype for minimum wage earners that corporate America keeps spinning and hoping you will actually believe is that they are teenagers working a part-time job, the reality is that more than half of minimum wage earners are over 25 and more than half work full-time. In other words, most of the folks making minimum wage are trying to make a living on this bullshit.
So let’s do a little math, shall we? The average American works 1900 hours yearly. This would mean that a hard working individual earning minimum wage would make a grand total of $13,775 per year, less than two thousand dollars over the national poverty line for an individual. But what if they have a child or other dependent? Well, sucks to be them! Even with two parents working full-time at the current minimum wage, a family of four would fall below the poverty line. Are you fucking kidding me? Fiscal conservatives will tell you that they are tired of financially supporting others. “Get a job!” is their common rejoinder. The problem is that these people have a job. So just who are they really supporting?
And that’s why even fiscal conservatives should be on board with an increase to the federal minimum wage. Why? Because our hard-earned income is being used to subsidize the labor force of these corporations who refuse to pay their employees a decent living wage and instead want the American taxpayers to pick up the tab for their labor expenses. If you’re pissed off about your taxes going to pay for welfare for individuals, your real ire should be directed at the corporate welfare that costs the American public $153 billion annually. That means the average American taxpayer is giving nearly $1000 from their paycheck each year to these greedy corporations who are crying poverty while raking in record profits.
Let’s take Walmart as an example. Even though Walmart has recently caved to economic pressure and agreed to start paying most of their employees a living wage, a whopping 30% of their employees receive food stamps and/or some other form of government provided financial assistance. Who do you think pays for that? That’s right- you. Sadly, last Thanksgiving it was commonplace at many Walmarts throughout the nation to have food drives, not for the community at large and the folks who are unfortunately unemployed, but for their own workers who, despite working a full-time job, did not have enough money to feed their families. Walmart compensates their employees so poorly that the rest of us have to chip in to make up the slack so that these folks can support themselves. In fact, research suggests that Walmart employees alone cost the American public more than $16 billion a year in food stamps or a whopping three to five thousand dollars for each Walmart employee.
Meanwhile, Walmart is profiting enormously from the benefit of having their labor force subsidized by the government. Yes, some of that comes back to people who shop there in low prices, but don’t kid yourself, we all know that most of your tax money is instead going straight into their pockets. When Sam Walton died and left his fortune to his four children, they immediately became the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th wealthiest Americans. And you didn’t even get a thank you note for subsidizing their life of excess.
So of course these greedy bastards want to convince you that raising the minimum wage will hurt the economy and cost jobs. Their veiled threat is that if the minimum wage is increased, they will have to let some people go in order to pay the salary increase for others. Just one problem with this argument: the facts don’t support it. In every place where the minimum wage has been set at $10 or better, the economy has significantly improved since the implementation of the wage increase while unemployment has dropped. And if these companies cannot afford to pay a living wage that doesn’t have to be supplemented by government assistance, well, then fuck them, let them fail. Isn’t that the point of the free market system? Businesses that can manage the economic realities survive, and those that can’t fail. If a business can’t afford the true cost of a worker without having the rest of us pay part of the tab, well, sorry Charlie, but you don’t get to have that employee- sort of the same theory on why I don’t get to drive a Ferrari.
I, for one, am sick of seeing my tax dollars going to subsidize corporate America as executives line their pockets at the expense of the American public. By raising the the minimum wage, we shift the real cost of doing business back to the corporations themselves and off of the back of the American taxpayers. And thus we can put an end to the welfare system that is truly wreaking havoc on the American economy.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 words or less every TUESDAY and FRIDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com